A connection between art and wildlife

A connection between art and wildlife

Sophia Meldrum’s end-of-year design project led her to the forest paradise of Zealandia. In this myView blog post she talks about how she combined her passions for art and the environment to help raise funds for Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s iconic wildlife sanctuary.

Sophia in the Tim Beaglehole Courtyard at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn campus.

MyView: You’ve recently finished your degree. What did you study?

Sophia Meldrum: I’ve just finished my Bachelor of Design innovation, with a major in Communication Design and a minor in Social Innovation.

MyView: You managed to merge your own personal design goals with your passion for the environment and sustainability by creating art for Zealandia. How did you make that happen?

SM: When I went to my lecturer to discuss what I could do for my end-of-year project, she asked me what my passions were and I thought—creativity, helping people, and sustainability. She suggested I combine those things and do something for an environmental organisation in Wellington. We landed on Zealandia.

myView: What is Zealandia and how would you describe it to someone who’s never been there?

SM: This might sound cringe, but it’s like a paradise. When you’re walking through, it’s dead silent except for the sound of the birds and the crunch of the gravel under your feet. There’s a pond in the middle that’s so mystical it feels like a fairy tale and everything is still. They’ve achieved their goal of making it look like it’s untouched by humans.

Sophia in the Zealandia gift shop, where her original paintings and postcards are on sale. All proceeds will go to the Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary.

myView: How did it all come to fruition, making art to be sold at Zealandia?

SM: When I approached Zealandia, they were excited about the idea and set me up with loads of photos from around the sanctuary. I spent the lockdown painting all day every day. The main goal of the project was to raise money for Zealandia and design was my means of doing that. In the end, I ended up doing three paintings and turned these into postcards. I had photographs from Mellissa Boardman and Brendon Doran and Zealandia also got me permission to use their photos as a basis. I really wanted a photo of the birds so that I got it right and when people see the paintings, they recognise the birds and can be educated on native wildlife. Education was another part of the overall goal of the project.

myView: How can people get their hands on the artworks?

SM: The postcards and paintings are on sale at Zealandia and all the profits are going straight back to the sanctuary. I’m thankful for the guidance from my lecturers and tutors, as well as from the team at Zealandia, for helping make it happen.

Kōwhai, Hihi, Kererū were among the subjects of Sophia’s project at the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation

myView: What are you keeping busy with now and what other environmental causes have you been part of during your degree?

SM: I’m volunteering for the communications team at Forest and Bird, working with the campaigns team on creating online content to get young people involved in environmental awareness. During my degree I took part in Greenpeace days and I was a participant in the Plastic Diet club at the University. I didn’t get to do as much as I would have liked with them because of COVID-19, but it’s definitely a good group to join if you’re interested in helping the environment. Wellington has a lot of environmental awareness groups, so you don’t have to look very far to find one!

myView: Were you part of the strike for climate march in 2019?

SM: Yes that was so cool. It brought a tear to my eye when we were all out here (Beaglehole Courtyard, Kelburn) and then walking through the city with our signs and standing outside Parliament was such an incredible thing to be a part of. It was great that we started here at the Uni as a unit and then joined up with everyone else.

Clockwise from top left: Central park, Wellington Botanic Garden, Sophia’s Bird of the Year choice, the Hihi (Stichbird) at Zealandia, and the Strike for Climate march in 2019.

myView: Finally, where are the best spots in Wellington for students and young people who like being out in nature?

SM: Central Park is in Brooklyn is so nice—you can be in the city and then ten minutes later in a forest with streams and birds and have the feeling of being in real New Zealand bush. I also like Mount Kaukau, Wellington’s beaches, and the waterfront. The Botans (Wellington Botanic Garden) is somewhere else I’d recommend because you can just go in there and get lost for hours. The great thing about Wellington is that you’re right in the city but nature is just a few steps away if you want it.

Sophia Meldrum has just completed a Bachelor of Design Innovation at Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation, majoring in Communication Design and minoring in Social Innovation.

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